Luxe Trotter (DOCUMENTS) (French Edition)

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The modern meatpacking industry, in particular, is a marvel of collective denial. It is telling that, unlike the respected traditional saigneur , or the dreaded urban butcher, those responsible for killing livestock today are relegated to virtual nonexistence, their work invisible, anonymous, and designated only by euphemism in the United States, this work often devolves to illegal aliens, at the margins of American society. On the one hand, there was traditional sacrifice that yielded ever less pork for a rural population itself in decline. Yet as we see in contemporary postcards, the tue-cochon held a grip on the French imagination disproportionate to the actual volume of food that it provided.

Cards can appear giddy about the novelty but profoundly uneasy as well. Some postcards get at this by recording the bleak, carceral spaces of modern slaughterhouses, bearing witness to this unsettling new state of affairs. Here, in contrast, the card emphasizes the institutional setting, with its vats, hoists, and metal framework for suspending the carcasses—an assembly, or rather disassembly line. The slaughterhouse workers, seen from afar like the many pigs they process, seem but tiny cogs in a vast, industrial machine.

It is a critical step away from the forthrightness of traditional sacrifice, and toward the regime of avoidance and anonymity that for Vialles characterizes our relationship to modern slaughter. While photographic, documentary cards use physical barriers or physical distance, illustrated comic cards rely instead upon humor and whimsy to provide a reassuring sense of detachment. In one such card fig.

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Out front, the old charcutier and his young male and female clerks demonstrate a fanciful Machine-Cochon , a miniature pork processing plant where a squealing pig disappears into a funnel-shaped orifice, and finished products stream out the other end. As the charcutier declares, in the first of five comic stanzas in rhyming couplets,. The pig enters, alive as can be, And leaves as charcuterie. Andouille and boudin come out different-sized tubes. So enter, Sir, Madam, Take advantage of my deals.

And the venue is just as fanciful, taking pork processing out of a closed, institutional, industrial setting, and locating it outside, in the open, on a charmingly tree-lined, provincial street where well-dressed couples stroll and visit traditional local stores like this charcuterie.

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Intriguingly, within a context evoking industrial pork production, there is also this intimation of cannibalism. Is the lard made of pig or corn? Is it animal or vegetable? Are we too eating our own when we consume animals who resemble us? The potential for unpleasant, even dangerous surprises lurking in meat and, for that matter, all food products became all the greater with the nationalization and eventual globalization of food production, progressively dissociating consumers from food sources.

Fairbank lard, made in Chicago but marketed abroad, provides a suggestive early example. The vivid colors, bright illumination, caricatural mode, and snappy advertising copy all suggest forced light-heartedness in an attempt to obscure grisly subject matter with humor.

All the slicing is done, as if by magic, without bloodshed or apparent pain or suffering for the animal. In this connection, wintry pig postcards with no explicit link to winter holidays are of particular interest, as they associate pigs with cold itself, rather than with specific events during the cold season. A strange energy circulates here, in the almost unnatural light illuminating the composition and the zeal moving the pigs, which whirl together like a wheel, fan, or turbine spinning on a central axis, while the mysteriously frosty snow pig suggests experiments at the time with deep freezing, storing, and transporting frozen animal carcasses.

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On another equally evocative card fig. Perhaps the incongruity of such postcards also figures a noteworthy historical lag, since France was a leader in early refrigeration technology, but slow to adopt it for actual food industry use. Trains, bicycles, automobiles, and of course flying machines loomed especially large as hallmarks of modernity.

All sorts of encounters occur between pigs and various manifestations of the modern world, like the Old Pig of Marseille confronting the Pont Transbordeur fig. In postcards, modernity often takes the form of new-fangled transportation, like automobiles, bicycles, or trains, with various images of pigs run over on road or rail. For example, The Run-Over Pig fig. In another postcard fig. Presumably, these forward-thinking automobilists have driven into the countryside to reconnect on their own comfortable terms with the terroir. Such encounters between pigs and cars or trains are plausible and probably happened with some frequency, but other cards venture instead into the phantasmic realm of pigs riding bicycles, driving cars, or, most improbable of all, flying.

Postcard artists exploited the aeronautic theme from every imaginable angle, spinning off pigs with wings, pigs piloting hot air balloons or primitive planes, pig-carrying zeppelins using champagne power for proto-jet propulsion, piggy banks with propellers transporting human passengers, and normally ponderous pigs transformed into lighter-than-air craft. One exemplary card fig. This elaborate crash—involving pedestrians, dogs, trees, lampposts, a horse and carriage, an early airplane, and a pig-shaped dirigible—juxtaposes past and present.

On the one hand, within the context of carnival, pigs conjure up age-old cyles of fat and lean, and with them the time-honored ritual of the tue-cochon. This is in short a transitional image, of the old and the new colliding. In a nondescript rural setting, a dirt road begins from a distant barn, and runs up to the foreground, where an urban chef figure straddles a pig, his soup skimmer held high in the air like a riding crop.

The implied trajectory runs from countryside to city, framing an absurd farm-to-table fantasy in which the chef would somehow ride this unruly four-legged provision into town. An awareness of old customs coexists here with an awareness of change and its implications, particularly the growing modern discontinuities between food suppliers and consumers. The Triangle French Studies Group provided valuable comments on an earlier version of it.

Of course, any errors or shortcomings in the argument are my own.


Rosenheim, Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard , exh. Lauder Collection , exh. Boston: MFA Publications, And like any new technology, postcards were disruptive. Geary and Virginia-Lee Webb, eds. For the intersection of visual culture and animal studies, see Joan B. Trade cards did vary more in format than postcards, and typically were smaller. While postcards were designed to be sent openly through the mail, trade cards were distributed by their sponsoring businesses, which in some cases sent them through covered mail i.

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  • Simultaneously accentuating and denying the real-time-and-place reality of some past moment that is their ostensibly factual subject, [postcards] create an independent reality, a strange other world, of their own. Foulon, , Delagrave, , 47— This was first published a decade earlier, as part of an anthology.

    Val-Arno, As a taxonomist, Buffon had a bone to pick with pigs, whose anatomy resisted easy classification.

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    Oudin, , 93— During this period, the postcard itself, like the art nouveau aesthetic, were seen as signs of modernity, and all the more so when these were combined. Paris: F. Rouff, — Histoire s de menus , exh. Paris: A. Laffont, ; and Patrick Rambourg, A table. Paris: Champion, Thus was exorcised the temptation to eat a baby eater. Alexandrine de Mun Paris: R. Laffont, , See, in addition, Bonera, Le cochon , 46— New York: Palgrave Macmillan, La tuade du cochon , In a message to me on June 1, , Bounoure explained:.

    My grandfather, Jean Esquerre, was a wine and armagnac merchant in Auch. He was about 30 years old in It was a pretty well-known and large-scale business. He often traveled for work. During his trips, he would send postcards to his sister-in-law Henriette, who collected them.

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    Her sister, Marie-Antoinette Lambert, was my grandmother. My grandfather owned a little farm near Auch, Las Serres. There they made traditional pork products, which were consumed throughout the year: blood sausage, hard sausage, pork preserved in fat, salted hams. Le cochon rentre plein de vie, Il sort en charcuterie. Citation: Michael D. When last checked the page no longer existed at its original location. Far from the stuck-up arrogance of austerity, indignant and rebellious city halls have sprung up in dozens of cities, including Barcelona and Madrid.

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